Success Stories

Empowered by Home: Fernando and Stephani Find Their Perfect Condo in San Jose

When a job offer brought Fernando and Stephani to the South Bay a few years ago, they settled comfortably into the area.

The couple appreciated the diversity of the community and the many activities the Bay Area had to offer. Fernando, who grew up in Oregon to a U.S. citizen dad and Peruvian mom, enjoyed his work and growing responsibilities as a civil engineer in San Jose. Stephani, who had immigrated from Peru in 2015, took accounting classes and worked on improving her English at De Anza College, then attended San Jose State University for a business degree. A few years after their big move, the couple decided that buying a home would be a smart investment for their future.

In early 2019, shortly after Housing Trust and the County of Santa Clara launched the Empower Homebuyers SCC program, Fernando and Stephani thought this would be the best way for them to purchase their first home. They systematically went through the checklist of the Steps to Apply for the program and started with the required Homebuyer Education class. Check. Sent their Certificate of Completion. Check. Went through the list of Participating Lenders, interviewed a few, found one with the best rates, and who they liked the most. Got their Pre-approval for the Empower loan. Check.

“It was a lengthy process, which we understand because Housing Trust had to make sure we met all the qualifications,” said Fernando and Stephani. “We never bought a home before and appreciate that Housing Trust was always responsive to our questions.”

They also found a REALTOR® they liked. While getting their documents ready for the Empower Application, the couple became knowledgeable about the housing market, current trends, interest rates, listing inventories, etc. Always practical, Fernando weighed the pros and cons of purchasing a house versus a condo. The couple decided that a condo would be the right choice for them because there was more inventory to choose from and they didn’t want to wait too long to buy a home.

“We were looking aggressively into [single family homes] at first, then decided to start looking into condos,” they said. “We didn’t want the interest rates to go up and wanted to take advantage of the low rate at the time. As soon as we were approved for the program, we started walking through homes and putting in offers. Within two weeks, an offer was accepted!”

Fernando and Stephani closed on their home and moved into their San Jose condo a few months ago. They couldn’t be happier with their decision.

For first-time homebuyers interested in using the Empower program to help with the down payment of a home in Santa Clara County, Fernando and Stephani advise, “Be patient. Don’t shop for a home until after you submit your application and get it approved. Subscribe to a few real estate newsletters to understand the process and the local market so you know you are making informed decisions. Keep good credit. Be sure to talk to multiple lenders to get the best offer. And then go for it.”

Want to learn more about Empower? Our next down payment assistance webinar will be held September 9th from 10:30am -11:30am and co-hosted by San Jose Councilmember Raul Peralez. The webinar is free to attend and will be presented entirely in Spanish. Share or download the flyer or Register for the webinar here.